The winners of Australia’s first bitcoin essay competition were announced this week, with 12 BTC in prizes awarded to three writers.

The writing contest, sponsored by Sydney-based exchange Bit Trade Australia, posed the question: ‘Digital Currencies and the future: Will Bitcoin change the world?’.

The competition opened in November last year to Australian and New Zealand citizens with the intention to drive bitcoin and digital currency awareness.

Increase in value

The prize has increased in value considerably since the contest was announced. The 7 BTC first prize was worth around AU$1,000 when announced, but is now worth over AU$4,000, despite this week’s price turmoil.

First prize went to Gareth Williams, a New Zealand native who lives in Sydney and works full time as a Java programmer.

“I feel that Bitcoin, just like the Internet in the early 1990s, is a technology with enormous potential which is largely under-appreciated in the mainstream,” he said.

“I talk about it enthusiastically with anyone who will listen, but until I wrote my entry for this competition I’d never stopped to organize my thoughts on paper. I thoroughly enjoyed doing so, even though I never expected to win!”

Williams said he’ll hang onto his 7 BTC prize for now. Having first come across bitcoin in 2011, he read Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper and thought: “Wow, this is awesome!” Like too many others he neglected to buy in at that stage, but was still prescient enough to acquire his first bitcoins in early 2013.

Since then, he’s been reading bitcoin news and forums “religiously” but tends to ‘lurk’, rarely commenting. The essay contest was one of his first forays into writing about bitcoin – a move that suddenly looks promising.

Essays were judged by a panel of bitcoin experts including Bitcoin Foundation board member Elizabeth Ploshay, and University of Sydney professor and author Dick Bryan.

Promoting digital currency

“The idea for the essay competition came out of our desire to raise awareness around the security of bitcoin versus traditional payment methods such as credit card transactions and cash,” said Bit Trade Australia’s Head of Marketing, Ronald Tucker.

“As more businesses adopt Bitcoin in Australia we’re excited to share people’s thoughts and insight into how this will impact the Australian economy.”

Second and third place winners, Gitana PS and Gijutsu Kakumel, will receive 3 BTC and 2 BTC respectively. Bryan said:

“We had a fantastic, diverse set of high quality essays. They address different aspects of bitcoin – from its emergence as an alternative money in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, to issues of the role of trust in financial markets, and the possibility of using the technological innovation within bitcoin to apply to other social possibilities, like on-line elections.”

“Many also address the criticisms of bitcoin: whether it is merely a temporary device of speculation and its reputed connection to illegal trade. This is what makes explorations of bitcoin so important, and this essay competition so interesting.”

The winning essays will either be published on Bit Trade Australia’s site soon, or the company will supply them on request.

Australia

Australia has only 22 million residents but is one of the world’s top 20 economies. It is also one of the world’s most economically liberal countries and one of its least corrupt, according to Transparency International. This all means a promising environment for bitcoin and a haven for bitcoin startups.

One of its major banks, the National Australia Bank, is apparently working with bitcoin businesses, and the local tax authority recently announced that it was looking for ways to include bitcoin in income declaration for the 2013-14 Financial Year.

Typewriter Image via Shutterstock

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